Energy in the News: Ferguson on Shale Gas Impact on the U.S.

I found this CNN interview with Harvard historian Niall Ferguson very interesting. The topic is the impact of the production of shale gas in the United States, and its economic and political impact. While this has nothing to do with LENR in terms of science or technology, I feel like the discussion has relevance here, as it deals with the impact of energy breakthroughs on society.

Some points that Ferguson brings out about shale gas:

It today accounts for about half of all natural gas produced in the U.S. from nothing a few years ago.
It is driving down the cost of electricity which is now one third of the cost of German electricity.
It is bringing manufacturing back to the U.S. because of cheap energy costs.
Coal power plants are being replaced by cleaner gas plants.

The question that comes to my mind after watching this is, if shale gas can already have such an impact in just a few years, what happens when the E-Cat is introduced?

  • Gerrit

    Shale gas:

    It requires tons of chemicals to be pumped into the ground.
    It will reach groundwater eventually.
    It will happen long after the profiteers are dead.

    Shift today’s problem of energy shortage into to future by spoiling the environment.

    • Invy

      60% of casings fail after 30 years…I would say within their lifetimes they will see their victims.

      • daniel maris

        Yep, it’s a very silly and shortsighted approach I think. Especially when we have so much energy within our reach at reasonable prices through wind, solar, wave, tidal etc.

        The price of green energy has been falling steadily and will continue to do so I believe.

        • MikeP

          Do you even begin to understand the scope of maintenance needed to keep wind (especially offshore wind) and tidal going? There’s no way these will ever be economically competitive, let alone reasonable…

          • daniel maris

            Er yes, I do.

            Let’s get rid of your “especially” first.

            There is a world of difference between onshore and offshore in terms of maintenance. Operational onshore wind energy costs are actually v. low once you’ve discounted the capital cost. I favour a pretty aggressive onshore approach.

            But have you quantified all the costs of coal and gas in terms of clean air, respiratory diseases and water pollution?

            Have you counted the cost of all additional security and anti-terrorist measures for nuclear power?

          • Peter_Roe

            Tidal power (atolls/lagoons and tidal stream generators) can potentially produce power at a cost per unit that is lower than any other renewable except solar, where suitable conditions exist.

            In the UK there is the potential to produce up to about 20% of national power consumption – far more than nuclear, at a fraction of the cost and with no post-operational problems or near-permanent environmental contamination.


          • Job001

            Love the wide range of biased views! Greens that hate fossil fuels so much that a 50% reduction in CO2 and economical electricity from using abundant NG is terrible, how awful! Save the worlders pushing for instant LENR replacement of current infrastructure before the science, engineering, marketing, finance, and installation is complete. Conspiracy guys arguing well big business bias or research bias against change. It’s very cool such diverse views are learning and talking with civility(mostly)!

          • Gerrit

            You are saying that your worldview is superior and all others here are stupid idiots.

            Congratulations, we are glad you shared that with us.

          • Peter_Roe

            How gratifying that we all fit so neatly into your stereotypes, and how wonderful that at last we have someone with clear unbiased vision to help us break free of our various delusions.

          • Job001

            Everyone (I also) assume bias and views other than the way the world actually works. It’s ok we come from different experiences. Sorry for my clumsy communications(tyranny of words).

            I repeat I love the biased views and that we are communicating, not that anyone was stupid or superior. Our starting assumptions bias or color our conclusions.

  ödel Gödel proved in 1931 that all assumptions taken too far result in paradox, fallacy, incompleteness, or undecidability, however you wish to describe it. I accept his proof(other proofs exist).

          • freethinker

            I find Gödel’s “law” to be very applicable to theoretical physics today. Too much theory, and to hell with any empirical data that may put in question theories that has become almost axioms.
            It lead to paradoxes, fallacies, incompleteness and undecidability. I too can accept that by merely open my eyes.

  • Adam Lepczak

    No thanks
    And some of the idiots on JofNP are telling Rossi to use E-cat as a way to make the shale exploration more efficient…
    How stupid and shortsighted

  • Brit54

    The major difference is that he is talking about US shale gas. ECat or similar will not give US any long term price edge.

    • admin

      I certainly agree. The E-Cat (or as you say, similat) will give an advantage to those countries that move over to the E-Cat rapidly.

      • Peter_Roe

        Damn. That means the UK is bugg*red.

    • petrolero

      I believe shale oil & gas is a last gasp in oil production in the US. There is a short temporary net gain in production but it would never allow us to acheive the mantra of “Energy Independence”. It is very expensive to drill and produce these wells and extremely environmentally hazardous. The depletion rates are higher then for conventional oil and gas wells and many companies are severely undercutting their profits by over producing due to industry obligations few in the public are aware off.

      Here is a link from a video presentation by Arthur Berman at the 2012 ASPO convention that might enlighten some of you about the realities of shale gas and oil.

      • Roger Bird

        I am pretty sure that this is the whining of an AGW enthusiast. Of course, it is all moot.

      • Babble

        Nicole Foss at The Automatic Earth agree with you that nat. gas is temporary. Here is her reasoning Hopefully, it will continue until E-cat is ready to take up the charge.

      • Stephen

        I have been following the PO debate for a while, and even believing it… however they have indeed been consistently wrong in their prediction (underestimation) for decades. For instance I remember people saying no new relevant technological breakthroughs where on the orizon (what about fracking? looks like it works, at least to some extent). So, how can that be? While I believe much of their general reasoning is sound, I am starting to feel like “PO analysist” are not being fully dispassionate and trustable in their analysis. So, is there any hard and proved fact suggesting that shales will just continue for a “short” time? Also one should define “short”. I mean, if they continue for 50-100y it’s almost like infinite for all of us. In the mean time we will find another solution, we have been going on like that for eons.

        • Omega Z


          PO is poorly defined. It leads to a lot of misconceptions among the lay person.

          To be properly defined, you need to incorporate the cost of retrieval & what society can afford. This consideration would indicate were on the Door Steps of PO now. Thus the Economic circumstances. Economy starts to grow, Oil price increases & Economic stall. New Recovery Technology will only prolong this stage, but probably not end it.

  • georgehants

    From The Huffington Post.
    November 27, 2012
    Radical Alternatives: Energy Sources to Transform Our Future
    On “Top Five Alternative Energies,” Regina Meredith interviews Sterling Allan, president of New Energies Systems Trust, on the cutting edge of emerging alternative sources of energy. Hardcore skeptics, suspend your disbelief, at least for the show’s duration. Be prepared to go beyond solar, wind and thermal energy sources and enter a new frontier of terms, including vortex, cold fusion and motor generators. Allan’s excitement for these new forms of energy is palpable, and Meredith asks him all the right questions to tap into his thorough knowledge of the subject.

    • Hmm. Normally Huffington Post accepts my posts. This time I get a black screen when I hit Submit. They may be heavily moderating this topic (surprise, surprise). Here’s my post that got blocked. Maybe someone else can submit the same thing and see what happens.

      Try going directly to the sites:
      PESWiki main page
      Top 5 Exotic Free Energies

      I can’t speak for the validity of everything listed here, but I have spent a great deal of time researching cold fusion and Rossi’s E-Cat and can say unequivocally both are real and immensely threatening to current energy producers. That’s why you’ll see so many negative comments by paid imposters. Don’t be fooled. Keep reading and eventually you’ll get to the truth. Be sure to check out E-Cat World for top cold fusion news coverage.

      • Peter_Roe

        Could be they’re auto-blocking posts with outgoing links? Have you tried with a non-clickable partial URL (

        • I tried again with non-clickable links and I’m still blocked.

  • Kim G. Patterson

    Shale Oil Recovery is insanity at its best.


  • Chris

    It is very complicated.

    At the end of Pordenone, Rossi said that electric utilities have such great bureaucratic hurdles in changing anything that it’s hard to negotiate with them. These conversions from coal to methane must have come at great cost and likely those plants would have misgivings about another conversion so soon after, even though, at the same time, it ought to be simpler to convert plants already on methane.

    Then again, perhaps the big new partner he talked about is a major utility contractor, I dunno…

  • georgehants

    DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab)
    The installed price of solar photovoltaic systems in the US continues to decline at a rapid pace
    Berkeley, CA — The installed price of solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the United States fell substantially in 2011 and through the first half of 2012, according to the latest edition of Tracking the Sun, an annual PV cost-tracking report produced by the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley
    The median installed price of residential and commercial PV systems completed in 2011 fell by roughly 11 to 14 percent from the year before, depending on system size, and, in California, prices fell by an additional 3 to 7 percent within the first six months of 2012. These recent installed price reductions are attributable, in large part, to dramatic reductions in PV module prices, which have been falling precipitously since 2008.

  • georgehants

    Pekka, told you so, Ha.
    LHC’s Latest Particle Collisions Find What May Be A New Form Of Matter
    Particle collisions are turning up unexpected quantum weirdness.
    By Rebecca Boyle Posted 11.27.2012
    Some unusual new physics may be emerging at the Large Hadron Collider, where particles are behaving in a surprising way. Collisions between protons and lead nuclei might be forming a new type of matter that relies on quantum entanglement, according to particle physicists.

  • GreenWin

    It is interesting to see the slide in US energy pricing as a gauge for LENR acceptance. While natural gas is now a glut, we also see announcements about falling PV modules (er, still, what happens when sun don’t shine?) Next I would expect a fission announce attempting to soft peddle waste mitigation, construction costs, or safety issues. To no avail.

    All these rapid movements in big energy predict a precipitous new form of power we know well. Will electric utils be willing to put combined cycle turbine conversions on hold until LENR arrives? Doubtful. The contraction of centralized electric service begins with the very first industrial LENR unit. That business will no longer need the grid as a primary energy source. And once the economics of in-situ LENR @ .01 cents/kWh filters into industry – the landslide will begin in earnest (it has already, behind curtain.)

    So what is an electric company to do??? Fight it out using NG and hope they can stall LENR long enough to sell their assets? Offer customers long term incentives to stay on-grid until they can convert to LENR?? File cartel-based lawsuits to stop LENR??

    Those energy businesses with vision will write down the inevitable fossil/fission losses and start to manufacture LENR systems under license. There is an entire globe to sell to now. Outfits like Florida Power and Light, PG&E, ConEdison, could contract to manufacture branded LENR systems for light & heavy industry; district CHP, and residential micro-CHP – converting current customer bases to new products and services. IF… they have vision.

    Eventually enviro-greens will insist on ending the CO2″polluting”NG position. There is still a flicker of life in climate changers – who if they fail to embrace zero-carbon LENR soon, will be revealed as simple green pretenders.

    Will big utils and manufacturers take the necessary bold steps to survive the international adoption of LENR? Will North American industry accept second class energy service?? Can GE see the forest? Will General Motors announce their conversion to cost-savings “more than electric” LENR to build their EV and PHEV lines??? Is Telsa Motors a likely first customer? All this and more on its way.

    I’m staying tuned. It’s just getting to the good part. 🙂

    • NJT

      I think your vision is on target and those who cannot or will not see the ‘New-Fire’ light will eventually vanish, just like the need for buggy whips did. Let’s just hope it all happens sooner rather than later, while Mother Earth still has some breath left in her…

    • GreenWin

      And just to keep the spirit of the season lively, here is a good overview of the impact of LENR generators written Dr. David Nagel, Research Prof, School of Engineering and Applied Science of The
      George Washington University in Washington, D.C.

      “There are two reasons why the adoption of LENR generators on a very large scale might happen relatively fast. The first is that they are not complex systems. Already-available manufacturing processes will suffice for their production. Hence, emplacement of a large manufacturing infrastructure should be relatively cheap and fast. The second reason…is economic. If they are as cheap to buy, operate and refuel as projected, they will lead to remarkable savings for consumers.”

      Dr. Nagel is also CEO of NuCat LLC, an LENR education and consulting firm that specializes in analysis and written reports on new energy technologies.

  • Hi
    It recently came to me. That is strange to me. I mean whole gas powered Hotcat thing.
    As I know Ecat to operate needs about 1,2kW electric power. (Double that in starting period) I assume that is not just for heating its core but to, for example, provide electric/magnetic field of certain frequency.
    Now if it comes to gas powered Hotcat. What except heat could we get from gas?
    Is that just gas powered combustion power generator which provide power for normal Hotcat?

    If gas is used just as heat source then why Hotcat cant use selfproduced heat to drive himself.

    any clues someone?

    as I calculated my use of Ecat it would cost me about 600-700zł (in my local Polish currency) bill every month to give me up to 10kW thermal power.
    It is not economic for me to use it. Cause I need 18kW thermal power to heat my home.
    Which cost me about 600-700 zł/month (average monthly cost during whole year would be 400zł/month) if I use my current heating system (gas powered condensating heater)

    PS. recently I came to question – why we don’t have aviable on market combustion electric power cogenerators for home use? Why we just use gas for heating when we could generate electric power at home and use waste heat to heat our homes.?????

    • Richard Hill

      check out Ceramic Fuel Cells They have a factory in Germany making the device you describe.
      “The company produces the “BlueGen” gas-to-electricity …”

      • thx i just made inquiry about that equipment, unfortunetly it appears not to be accesible in Poland.

    • for cogenerators, they are not common because turbine (or stirling) are expensive , especially when small…
      typical price around 100MWe is 500$/kW, and around 50kW 2000$/kWe.

      see the price of whispergen cogen to have an idea…
      Cogen today is usefull in country like germany wher electricity is awfully expensive because of market madly structured (promote expensive infrastructure because buyingprice is from claimed-cost, not market), renewable subsidies, and developpement of backûp powerplants to cover intermitence.

      • You said “because turbine (or stirling) are expensive , especially when small…” but why not use plain combustion engine instead of turbine?

        • It wouls seem logical to use cheap technology like car engine, but you have to adapt it.
          Diesel and Otto engine are not compatible with steam or hot gas. Some people propose piston engine for steam, some rotative piston (rankine cycle engine), but they cost are high too…

          maybe a question of volume ?
          maybe today we think of expensive turbine, because we use expensive fuel…

          If some one have an answer to that, I’m very demanding.
          Many people talk about stirling, but some professional told me tha the efficiency is awful… at very small size (see whispergen) however prices and efficiency might be better than turbine…
          I remember that Whispergen Cogen CHP produce 1-2kWe+many kWth, for 12-15000$… a top quality condensation gas cost boiler cost 3000eur installed+tax here.

          anyway 15000$ is my consumption of energy for about 10years…

          • we have cars on streets thats are propelled with LPG or CNG so what is the problem to use such engines in home cogenerator? If you have electrical energy it would conwert to heat anyway. Doesn’t it ?

    • Omega Z


      Even using NG for heat, The E-cat still requires some Electricity to operate but only a fraction as much.

      Also Your Right that in some situations E-cats aren’t economical.
      From your statement, you’re apparently using a high efficiency Gas heating system. By calculating the cost of Electric use @ my present cost verses Hi-efficiency Gas heat, I gain nothing & increases my costs.

      Persons most likely to benefit from the Early version E-cat would be those using, Oil, Propane, Electric Heat, or Hot water heat as they all cost more to begin with. All said & done, Each Home would need to calculate their individual needs to determine whether it’s beneficial.

      However, Using a Hi-bread E-cat with NG for the heat source may make a difference. We’ll have to wait & see what the outcome would be as this is still under development. I’m of the Opinion that it will be several years before anything is available for private use.

      Just to Note: “combustion electric power co-generators for home use?” You would be talking about a CHIP System. There coming, but will take a while. Also a perfect fit for future Models of E-cats.

    • Job001

      Control mathematics: Heat production is exponential with temperature, Heat release is linear. Thus at some temperature Tc the system is out of control. This point must be avoided or bad things like wreaking the catalyst happen. Consumer protection dictates the consumer’s product cannot wreak itself. Additionally if disconnected the unit must shut itself down, which is not the case if the unit runs itself without outside power or gas or something disconnect-able.
      Cogeneration units are available and with cheap NG are economical. Control and backup is difficult since sometimes heat is desired, sometimes electricity, sometimes both, sometimes maintenance. Larger scale works better for businesses.

      • hmm
        how can U be sure that “Heat production is exponential with temperature” in eCat ?? are You ecat engineer ?
        I didn’t find such info. I think temperature is function of produced energy power (positive correlation) and power of disspated energy (negative correlation).
        can u give any arguments about that quoted sentence because it seam not true to me

        • Job001

          A barrier to reaction always exists requiring a certain amount of energy to be overcome for the reaction to occur. That amount of energy is related to temperature due to the velocity energy of the reactants. The equations that describe this are the Arrhenius rate of reaction equations. Here is a starting point:

    • Peter_Roe

      We don’t have much information relating to gas powered ‘hot cat’ reactors, but my guess would be that the gas is used only to heat the canister, probably from an internal combuster and fire tube(s). Control and sensing will obviously remain electrical/electronic, and this system will necessarily include any stimulation system other than heat that may be required.

      You are correct that the information available on the 10kW low temp. home unit indicates that it would probably be marginally viable in many areas, but as it seems unlikely that such units will be marketed in the forseeable future, this is no longer of any importance.

      As and when small scale units begin to become available for industry, CHP and eventually for local heating it seems likely that devices will be based on ‘hot cat’ technology, not the old low temp. type. I suspect this will not happen until the last drops of profit have been wrung out of fossil fuels though.

  • Stephen

    Interesting, I did not know 1/2 of US gas came from shales now. In my opinion cheap abundant energy simply makes the difference between decadence (like one we live in) and a bright future. If the eCat or equivalent machines are working for real, they will change *everything*. Let’s hope so. The problem is in the “if”.

  • georgehants

    Japan’s ruling party promises to phase out nuclear power
    November 28, 2012 by Hiroshi Hiyama
    Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, who is also leader of the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ), announces DPJ campaign pledges during a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Tokyo ahead of the general election on December 16. Noda promised Tuesday to rid Japan of nuclear energy in coming decades as he set out his party’s platform before next month’s general election.
    Read more at:

  • Mark

    This video really need to be shown exactly along side that of the
    climate scientists saying what will happen to the earth when it
    experiences a 4 to 7 degree C net temperature increase by the end
    of the next century due to the production of of carbon dioxide from
    combustion. Increases in sea level in blue states. Estimates are that
    food production decreases 10% for each 1deg. C temperature rise. Of course
    the extra revenue from shale gas can buy a heck of a lot of food in
    the global market place. 🙂

    Shale gas is “kick the can down the road”ers dream of partial solutions.